The only thing I think could be better than another Casket Match from the phenom in 2021! Netflix and the WWE have partnered up to bring one really cool Halloween special featuring The Undertaker to the streaming service giant on October 5th, 2021- Escape the Undertaker!
That’s right folks, The Undertaker (Mark Calaway), gets his own and FIRST featured film for the Halloween season- as far cry from playing second fiddle to the Hulkster as a toddler- talking bounty hunter from Outer Space, (heh, Suburban Commando). And it’s fan-friendly as an interactive experience where Escape the Undertaker will give viewers the power to decide the actions of the Undertaker’s new victims, as they try to escape the wrath of the WWE legend.
“In this interactive film featuring WWE Superstars, The Undertaker has set a trap for the decorated tag team The New Day at his mansion. What they don’t know: The Undertaker’s mansion is an extreme Haunted House, packed to the brim with supernatural challenges. It’s up to viewers to decide the fate of these three poor souls trying to survive the wrath of The Undertaker.”
November 22, 1990: A day that lives in infamy across the board with wrestling fans. I’ll never forget that fateful Thanksgiving where our stereotypical giant Italian family got together for our fat-fuck annual holiday feast. Italian cold cuts platters, Italian Christmas Soup, the big turkey feast and of course, the mother fuckin’ PPV holiday event of the year: The WWF Survivor Series!
Real talk- To this very day, no WWE event intros can hold a candle to the ones of the 80s’ and early 90s’. If their sole purpose was to rile you up and make you want to suplex your little brother into the mashed potatoes, well then goddammit they did their job!
Anyway, after the twelfth course of dinner, we all gathered around my grandparents’ oversized Magnavox floor television to witness wrestling mullet glory in all its splendor; with my eight-year-old ass popped squat right in front of this beast. Everyone was pretty excited for the entire program, with levels of exhilaration varying between us over what match we were most looking forward to. However, collectively we WERE VERY ANXIOUS for two things in particular with this Survivor Series: what the hell was in this giant egg that the WWF heavily hyped up the weeks leading up to the program, ( we’re gonna go over this in a separate Thanksgiving article-stay tuned) and who exactly, was this mystery Million Dollar teammate that “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase kept boasting about leading up to the feud group match with Dusty Rhodes and his American Dream Team?
Well, like I said. I’ll NEVER forget the intro made by DiBiase himself once the match was ready to get underway. A very simple introduction, hailing from Death Valley, weighing in at 320 pounds- THE UNDERTAKER. Followed by his signature maniacal laughter, (one that I always got a kick out of). And what came out of those tall, dark curtains leading to the arena was nothing short of a spiritual experience for everyone watching. I WAS IN AWE.
Roddy Piper took the words right out of our mouths: “LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT HAMHOCK!!”
The debut of one of the most celebrated wrestlers in history, a man who’d go on to win seven WWF (now WWE) Heavyweight Championships, as well as 21 straight WrestleMania matches, is truly a golden moment in wrestling history. From his entrance alone, we initially expected a slow-moving superstar that relied on gimmick and strength but holy FUCK we were so damn wrong. The very first opponent to get a taste of the PHENOM, as announcers dubbed him later on, was appropriately the legendary Bret “The Hitman” Hart. However, Hart’s teammates Rhodes, Neidhart, and Koko B. Ware all got a graveyard style ass-whoopin’ at the gloved paws of the Deadman- with Koko being on the receiving end of the Undertaker’s signature finisher, the Tombstone. Now again, with a man as large as Mark Calaway (The Undertaker) you can imagine our surprise when this dead-eyed wrestler started moving around the ring like a beautiful ballet with wrestling moves. His agility paired with intimidation tactics was quite remarkable and unlike anything I had personally seen in my short-lived life up until then. And I can personally say with confidence it hasn’t been matched since.
This Thanksgiving marks over 30 years since The ‘Taker stole the show in the WWE and watching his Boneyard Match with AJ Styles this past April, just proves my point all the more. The man is truly a goddamn treasure in the industry and he made a fan for life with me on that very first night in 1990.
And yep- this is my little tribute to the Phenom, OG and traditional style on my right-back shoulder done by husband and soulmate Bradley Pauley at our shop, Last Chance Tattoo . Funny enough, a few years back this picture made it to a tattoo list in Wrestlezone, and I just stumbled upon it accidently. Oh the internet is full of surprises.
Also worth noting, is our seven degrees of separation with The Undertaker that actually includes our shop. Our dear, departed friend MoJo Thomas, who sadly passed away earlier this year, was taught by Doc Dog and Smilin’ Paul of Las Vegas Tattoo Company- who initially was the artist of a few of Calaway’s tattoos! So yes, he was around while the Undertaker was getting drilled on his skin back in the early 90s’ and I am so envious of this. Also, it’s a great story that intertwines a friend I miss dearly and one of my childhood heroes and it had to be said.
Anyway, the debut of this magnificent specimen of a superstar definitely ranks up there as one of my favorite childhood pop-culture memories. So let’s relive it together with the magic of YouTube! Cheers to 30 years of non-stop beautiful, bone-breaking entertainment brought to you by the American Badass!
A date that will forever live in glorious infamy for me would be March 26, 1991. A day where all my dreams of brightly colored outfits, incredible arena entrance music, and the ever so amazing Tonka Wrestling Buddies and giant Hulk foam fingers being sold up and down the aisles of the Thomas and Mack arena in lieu of overpriced bags of popcorn. Ok, there was that too but as an eight-year-old, I needed those damn buddies to smack my little brother in the face with just like the TV commercials. Anyway, it was my first LIVE WWF all-star that would later air on Superstars of Wrestling and I was here for it. Yep. I was pretty goddamn excited for the show. I was about to see all my muscular heroes: Hulk Hogan, Legion of Doom, Randy Savage, and of course, the goddamn Undertaker who had just made his debut several months prior at the 1990 Survivor Series. So yeah, it was pretty exciting guys.
About halfway through the program that involved exciting matches between superstars and also filler matches with “jobber” wrestlers, the attention from the ring was drawn to a dark corner of the stadium. The dim lighting gave way to what looked like, a grimly decorated memorial service with gothic candles and wreaths of flowers strewn about. OOOOOOOOHHHHH YESSSSSSSS. It was time for the mother-fuckin’ Funeral Parlor with Sir Paul of Bearers- a sideshow skit notorious in the WWF glory days where a superstar or manager hosts another guest into their realm. And usually ends up in a fight more or less. We can all thank the Rowdy one for starting that treasure up with Piper’s Pit. Anyway, today’s guest was the ever so popular Ultimate Warrior, and little did we know shit was about to get really intense.
Before we get into it, and I may be opening myself up for a lot of turmoil here, I was never really a fan of the Warrior. I can’t explain it other than, maybe I felt like he was taking away from Hogan’s glory. Yes, I know the torch was set up to be passed to him, but I just wasn’t buying it even as a seven-year-old. My little brother, on the other hand, was a die-hard fan of the Warrior. And I had a new-found admiration for this dark, brooding figure that was making waves in the world of wrestling. And holy shit, this was a tense moment for my little brother and I. His favorite wrestler was about to enter the Funeral Parlor with one of my favorites, so it was as if we were about to have a “who has the bigger dick here” sibling battle in the sense these big burly men were representing us. Yes, I’m a female. But that doesn’t mean I can’t measure out my “Phantom Dick” too? Why be sexist here?
Back to the story.
Ok, so here we are. Bearer is setting up for the show with his “Paul Bearer-ish” ramblings and Warrior comes out doing his growl and all that jazz. Bearer is stoked to see he made the appearance because apparently, The Undertaker has made quite the gift for him-his own custom casket! What a sweet gesture, eh? Anyway, the casket was covered with a black tarp-like sheet and once revealed, the Warrior looked kind of freaked out. Which pretty much made all my insides giggle. Paul commences to taunt the crap out of him by indeed, pointing out how scurred he really is of death, and of course, the Undertaker. Warrior starts getting all huffy, pointing his finger in Paul’s face mumbling some gruffs or something, and out from behind out of nowhere, Undertaker comes at him! Beats up on him pretty good, and manages to stuff the Warrior into his own coffin. A stunned, yet still resistant Warrior tries to fight the closing of the lid, but unsuccessfully. I sort of screamed with delight, not going to lie and sneered at my brother who was held up by my father so his tinier self could see the action better. Victorious, Undertaker and Bearer retreat slowly back to the dressing room and here we are, Warrior stuck in a casket. Now we have a bunch of WWF officials trying to pry this thing open in front of a crowd of thousands. After what seems like an eternity, and it was truly only about maybe 5 minutes, they finally get the sucker open to reveal a lifeless warrior.
And that’s when a sea of tears came about to just about every kid in the crowd, including my brother. I say just about every kid because I was laughing hysterically like the sick little bastard I was, and well, still am I guess. He literally asked our Dad with tears welling up and stuttering, “Is he dead?!” And then I got to thinking under all that, “haha my guy just owned your guy,” well shit. Maybe something bad happened here! Remember now, we were little kids, thus thinking anything here was FAKE was not a thing. It was all very real to us. And then I started to get a little scared myself. Like holy shit, maybe he actually killed the guy! My parents had to assure us that everything would be ok, and of course, it was magically. But hey, we did get some sick as hell Wrestling Buddies out of it! Which is what I was eyeing the whole time anyway. So thanks to that little skit that scared the ever-loving shit out of us and every goddamn kid at Thomas and Mack, I totally got myself a bad-ass toy. The Warrior wasn’t so bad after all!